Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dole makes house calls

Even huge corporations like Dole Foods have to make house calls every once in a while to keep their customers happy.

After Dole Foods recently announced it was recalling bags of their “Hearts Delight” salad mix because of possible E.coli contamination, Marty Ordman, vice president of marketing and communications, said some of their customers who had the affected product called in asking company officials to pick up the recalled bags from their homes.

And Ordman said they were more than happy to comply.

“We’ve picked up some product that people had of that particular code from people’s homes,” he said. “If people have a bag of that product, but would like for us to pick it up, we’re more than happy to pick it up.”

Dole wasn’t so willing to deal with truckers who were left “holding the bag” with potentially contaminated product a year ago. Some OOIDA members and produce haulers had nowhere to go with the bagged spinach after it was rejected by receivers and were forced to find a place to dump their pallets of affected product so they could get back on the road.

That E.coli outbreak left three dead and more than 200 sickened after eating Dole bagged spinach, packed by Natural Selections Foods.

But to quote famed singer and songwriter Bob Dylan, maybe the times, they are a-changing for produce haulers.

Ordman told Land Line last week that truckers shouldn’t be caught in the middle when a recall on product is issued. This is good news coming from one of the world’s largest producers of fresh and fruits and vegetables.

“I guess my comment to you is that truckers should get compensated and they should have clear direction from either the receiver or the shipper so they know what to do with it,” Ordman said. “If a product was identified and it was on somebody’s truck, we would certainly get a hold of that person and instruct them to either bring it back to our warehouse or to bring it to the proper place.”

We haven’t heard from any truckers who have been hurt financially in these past two recalls on bagged leafy greens in less than a month.

Still, in order to ensure food is safe from “farm to fork,” written communication is vital for produce haulers to have in hand, especially when they are in transit with potentially contaminated product on its way to the marketplace.